Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero Review

Calling Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero a lousy platform-action game would be an insult to lousy platform-action games everywhere.

If Globalstar Software's PC platform-action game Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero had been released three to five years ago, it would've been easy to compare it unfavorably with better games that had come out around then, like Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and Abuse. But it's been three years since Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and five since Abuse--to say nothing of Sega's excellent Sonic Adventure games for the Sega Genesis console and Nintendo's outstanding Super Mario World for the SNES console--and the recently released Akimbo is vastly inferior to any of these other games. So it's not just a bad game; it's also thoroughly outdated, which makes Akimbo's 2001 release for the PC--on which platform-action games have never been popular--all the more baffling. In fact, calling Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero a lousy platform-action game would be an insult to lousy platform-action games everywhere.

Akimbo is frustrating to play...
Akimbo is frustrating to play...

If you happen to see Akimbo on the shelves at your local computer game store, you might be intrigued by the distinctive Japanese anime look of the game's box. But once you install the game, the closest thing you'll find to authentic anime graphics are the game's crudely drawn loading screens. The game itself is a 2D side-scrolling platformer that stars the titular hero, Akimbo. Akimbo is represented by a fairly well-animated prerendered sprite, as are some of the enemies Akimbo finds, such as goggle-eyed clams, goggle-eyed spiders, and goggle-eyed mosquitoes. However, the worlds that Akimbo explores are simplistic hand-drawn 2D backdrops that look like nothing more than grainy scanned-in drawings made with colored-ink markers.

Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero sounds no better than it looks. The game's music is upbeat, but it's so simplistic and repetitive that it becomes annoying quickly--thankfully, you can turn it off. Akimbo's other sound effects are apparently intended to be "cute." In addition to running, Akimbo himself can jump and perform a few martial-arts attacks to fight his enemies. When he does either, he emits a nasal, high-pitched shout or grunt. And when Akimbo dies (and he tends to quite often), he either cries out in pain or, if he's fallen into a pit, emits a high-pitched squeal. Most of his enemies also make similarly "cute" noises, too.

Unfortunately, Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero's poor graphics and sound are the best things about it, because the game itself plays horribly. The game's controls are only partially responsive: You can jump small gaps rather easily, as Akimbo responds quickly to jump input and "floats" slightly with each jump. But he runs and turns sluggishly, and he may run into an enemy or fall into a pit because he didn't stop running in time. In fact, it's a little too easy to die in Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero. A single touch from an enemy or a drop into a pit kills Akimbo, and the game's inconsistent control, bad level design, and poor hit detection (enemies that seem a safe distance away will sometimes kill Akimbo anyway) ensure that you do in fact die, and quite often. What's more, even though the game doesn't have an actual time limit in which you must solve a level, it has something that's perhaps even more frustrating: a "food meter." Akimbo must continually collect food items to survive, and though food is often plentiful in most levels, every so often you'll come across a poorly designed puzzle that requires multiple tries to solve, and before you can finish it, you'll run out of food and fall over dead. You start each game with four lives, and when you lose them all, you may continue, but only after you get booted back to the game's main menu and reselect the level you were playing. It's an annoying process that takes entirely too long, and it happens far too often.

...and not much to look at, either.
...and not much to look at, either.

Though there are quite a lot of them, Akimbo's levels just aren't enjoyable to play through. You'll find that most of the game's levels have parts that are alternately far too easy or maddeningly difficult. And whatever difficulty you find won't be from interesting and enjoyable challenges, it'll be from trying to reach a ledge that's just beyond your jumping range or from a pit that must be traversed using a specific item that you'll need to spend extra time trying to acquire.

It's possible that Akimbo's bright colors and cute characters might prove to be enough of a distraction for very, very, very young players who don't know enough about games to expect responsive controls, decent level design, or good gameplay, especially if they don't mind dying and restarting repeatedly. However, if you're over the age of 10, you'll probably find Akimbo to be both too simplistic and too frustrating to play--especially if you've played other, better platform-action games like Abuse, Jazz Jackrabbit, or any of Sega's Sonic Adventure games or Nintendo's Super Mario games.

  • View Comments (0)
    The Good
    The Bad
    About GameSpot's Reviews

    Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    Calling Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero a lousy platform-action game would be an insult to lousy platform-action games everywhere.
    Average Rating51 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Akimbo: Kung-Fu Hero
    Developed by:
    Iridon Interactive AB
    Published by:
    Msd-Japan, Global Star Software
    Action, 2D, Platformer
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    No Descriptors